Williams F1 driver Nicholas Latifi said he has received tons of hate, abuse and even death threats on social media after his shunt at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on 12 December.
The Canadian driver crashed out of the race which brought out the safety car and with a change in procedure giving Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen the opportunity to pass Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the last lap.
After the race, many F1 fans expressed their anger saying Hamilton was “robbed” of an eight world championship.
In a statement, Latifi said he has purposely been staying away from social media to let things settle down from the events of the last race.
“Using social media as a channel to attack somebody with messages of hate, abuse and threats of violence is shocking – and something I am calling out.”
Latifi said he had apologised to his team for the crash and that the rest was out of his control.
He said he was no stranger to negative comments about his performances and that having a thick skin was part of being an athlete.
“The ensuing hate, abuse, and threats on social media were not really a surprise to me as it’s just the stark reality of the world we live in right now. I’m no stranger to being talked about negatively online think every sports person who competes on the world stage knows they’re under extreme scrutiny and this comes with the territory sometimes.”
In response to Latifi’s statement, Hamilton’s Mercedes-AMG Petrona’s F1 Team tweeted: Stay strong Nicholas Latifi. We stand with you in the fight against online hate and abuse.”
Verstappen spoke out in Latifi’s defence last week, saying accidents were just a part of motor racing and it would be unfair to blame the Canadian.